Sunday, 29 March 2015

Pets on Pesach

Question: Do I need to feed my pet fish kosher l’pesach food over Pesach?

Answer: The Gemara (Pesachim 21b) teaches that one may not have any benefit from, or even own chametz over Pesach. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 443:1) writes that one must not feed one’s animal chametz over Pesach. One may not even instruct a non-Jew to do so on their behalf (ibid. 448:7).

However, the Mishna Berura (448:33) and Aruch Hashulchan (OC 448:12) write that one may sell their animal to a non-Jew for the duration of Pesach. It is best to sell the animal with one’s chametz to ensure that the transaction is carried out in a halachically accepted manner, and the animal should be removed to the non-Jew’s property. One should not sell the animal along with its chametz food as that is giving the impression that one is using a tricky loophole to feed one’s animal with chametz.

Although Ashkenazim do not eat kitniyos on Pesach, they are allowed to own and benefit from it. Thus, one may feed their animals food that contains kitniyos.

Rambam (Chametz Umatza 4:8) and the Shulchan Aruch (OC 442:4) write that one does not need to dispose of a mixture containing chametz that is totally inedible (by humans). Thus, R’ Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Ohr Lezion 3:8:5) allows one to feed one’s fish with regular fish food on Pesach, even though it contains a little chametz, as there is no way that such food can be considered edible.

Nonetheless, R’ Avrohom Blumenkrantz (Chasdei Avrohom 21) recommends one to buy kosher l’pesach food, such as dried worms, etc.

In conclusion, one should look for a safe alternative to feed one’s pet fish over Pesach that does not contain chametz.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Mezuza for Laundry Rooms

Question: Do I need to place a mezuza on the entrance to a small laundry room, approximately 1.8 metres long and 1.5 metres wide?

Answer: The Gemara (Sukka 3a) writes that we are not required to attach a mezuza to a house which is smaller than four amos by four amos. According to R’ Chaim Naeh (Shiurei Torah 13:25) this measures up to just under 3.7m2. Even the Chazon Ish (quoted in Shiurin Shel Torah 10:8), who maintains that an amah is larger, holds that one should follow the smaller size in this case.  

While the Rosh (Mezuza 16) writes that both the width and length of the room need to be at least four amos, Rambam (Mezuza 6:2) and Shulchan Aruch (YD 286:13) write that it depends only on the size of the area. Thus, the Shach (YD 286:23) and Aruch Hashulchan (YD 286:21) hold that if either the length or width of the room is less than four amos, one should affix a mezuza without reciting a beracha.

The Pischei Teshuva (YD 286:11) quotes the Chamudei Daniel who writes that one is obligated to affix a mezuza to a room that is less than 4 amos by 4 amos, if it serves a proper purpose (See Minchas Yitzchak 3:103; 4:92; Yechave Daas 4:51; Ohr Letzion 1:14). Nonetheless, R’ Ovadia Yosef quotes R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld (Salmas Chaim YD:105) and others who write that we do not follow the Chamudei Daniel (See Igros Moshe, end YD 1:181).

The Shulchan Aruch (YD 286:2) writes that utility and storage rooms require a mezuza. A changing room, however, is exempt, as it is considered disrespectful to affix a mezuza there. The Bach (YD 286:5) quotes the Kol Bo who writes that one is exempt from affixing a mezuza onto a laundry room, due to the unpleasant odours there. However, R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:548) explains that this doesn’t apply to modern day laundry rooms.

Nonetheless, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 2:152) writes that if the laundry room contains soiled clothes and is less than 4 amos by 4 amos it doesn’t require a mezuza. Elsewhere, (Shevet Halevi 5:167; 7:171), R’ Wosner notes that some place a mezuza from the laundry room going out into the adjacent room.

In conclusion, one does not need to affix a mezuza to a small laundry room.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Black Tefillin Straps

Question: As I was putting my tefillin away, I noticed that there are some spots on my retzuos (straps) where the black paint has come off. Are they kosher or do I need to paint them before wearing them again?
Answer: The Gemara (Menachos 35a) writes that there is a halacha lemoshe misinai that retzuos need to be (painted) black. According to the Elya Rabba (32:62) black is unique as any colour painted on top gets absorbed into it. Thus, black symbolises the oneness of Hashem.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 33:3) writes that only the side that shows needs to be painted black. Recently, many have bought straps that are painted black on both sides, though R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 9:16) writes that as the majority of poskim wrote that this isn’t necessary, there is no reason to do so.
The Mishna Berura (33:19) writes that one must pay particular attention to the kesher (knot) on the shel yad as that it is likely to get worn. So long as the retzuos look black at first glance they are kosher, however, even if on closer inspection they are grey or blue (Biur Halacha 33:3).
The Chafetz Chaim (Biur Halacha 33:3) writes that he isn’t sure as to whether the entire retzuos need to be black or just the minimum amount of the retzuos necessary to be kosher (See Shulchan Aruch OC 27:8).
Most poskim (Maharshag OC 1:7; Salmas Chaim 40; Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 4:28; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:22) maintain that so long as most of the straps are black, they are kosher.
In conclusion, one should paint over any white spots, especially if they are closer to the kesher and within the ‘minimum size’. When painting the straps, one should say leshem kedushas tefillin (Rema OC 33:4) and do so with ink made from kosher ingredients.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Exercise on Shabbos

Question: Am I allowed to jog or jump on a trampoline on Shabbos?
Answer: The Mishna (Shabbos 22:6) writes that there is a prohibition against being misamel on Shabbos. While Rashi translates this as massage, Rambam (Shabbos 21:28) understands it to mean exercise. Exerting oneself enough to bring out a sweat is a form of refuah, which is generally forbidden on Shabbos (See Shulchan Aruch OC 328:42). Thus, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 6:4) writes that one can’t work out with gym equipment.
The Gemara (Shabbos 113a) writes that one’s actions on Shabbos should be different to those during the week. According to Ramban (Vayikra 23:24), there is a mitzva deoraisa to rest on Shabbos. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 301:1) writes that one must not run on Shabbos unless it is to do a mitzva, such as running to shul (See Aruch Hashulchan OC 301:44). While the Mishna Berura (301:7) forbids jogging on Shabbos, R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 1:58) writes that one may run to escape the rain.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 301:2) does allow one to jump and run for pleasure. One would therefore be allowed to jump on a trampoline for fun, though not for health reasons (See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 16:39).
R’ Dr. Avraham Avraham (Nishmas Avraham OC 301:1) points out that if one had a medical condition and had to jog for medical reasons they can certainly do so.